Marketing and the Business Banker

By Cassandra Giovanni

When Marketing Collaborates with Business Bankers

A recent study conducted by St. Meyer and Hubbard and the team at Kadince revealed telling data about the relationship between business bankers and the marketing teams at their institutions. In 2016, 38% of financial marketers recognized the need to partner more effectively with their business banking team, while 59% of business bankers stated improvement was needed. The study dove deeper and focused on determining the areas that could help business bankers be more successful.

The biggest disconnect?

Organized customer events. Approximately 50% of business bankers stated there needed to be more organized customer events, while only 28% of financial marketers recognized this need. Perhaps the disconnect stems from differences in the perceived value of such activities and the commitment required from financial marketers to organize, market, and participate in the event.

As the head of the marketing department at the bank I’m employed at, I’ve been working hard to make sure the department communicates better with each business unit of the bank—from commercial lending, retail lending, investments, and life insurance to retail banking. Working better with retail banking meant participating in monthly pipeline meetings and inviting an open conversation about what marketing could do to help. Immediately, I was able to identify the need for low-cost events to drive traffic to the branches. Who better to help with that process than business bankers who see customers each day?

We knew it was important to incorporate the brand promise and identity into these events, and decided to focus on improving brand awareness in areas where it was not as strong. The primary focus was driven by the bank’s promise to be smart in the community it serves. With that in mind, we asked our business bankers for ideas on how they could have community events at branches to drive traffic, increase brand awareness, and be impactful in the community.

We could never have guessed the results of that simple proposition. A local branch manager, in an area targeted for such an event, was approached by a community member with the idea for a competitive food drive. As the head of the marketing department, I jumped right in when the idea was brought to our attention.

It was an easy decision. The area United Way, it turned out, was struggling with supplying food for our community during the summer months. With nearly 22,000 food-insecure residents in the county affected, we knew we needed to do something to help. Our small team of three—the branch manager, the community member who brought the idea to us, and I—set out to bring together local businesses for a cause close to us all: ending hunger. Thus, Uniting for United was born.

Together the team worked to bring together over twenty local businesses, including six local financial institutions, for a total of more than 75 separate business locations. The bank worked with a local newspaper and three local radio stations to get advertising and word out on the event. The marketing team also supplied content for participants to self-advertise on social media and at their locations. On collection day, I went out with a team member from facilities in the bank’s branded van to collect from the local banks, while a local dealership supplied a truck for the remainder of the pick-up. Pictures were posted on social media throughout the day, and on-air radio was supplied by the bank.

The event resulted in more than 9,000 pounds of food, $3,900 in cash donations and 1,500 cases of water to benefit the local United Way food pantry. The collection of food and money was the equivalent of 46,000 meals, feeding the 22,000 food-insecure residents in the county for two months.

We had no idea what to expect from the event. It was emotional to see the impact we were able to make in our community from such a small commitment of time and money. From a marketing perspective, it was an absolute win-win. People came to the branch to donate food and mingle with the volunteers from the branch, and we were able to really make a statement about who we are at Savings Institute Bank & Trust. Bank employees were proud to be a part of the event, and we cannot wait to do it again next year, with even more competitors and meals. Our hope is to have the event bring in enough food to feed the need for the entire summer season, when the food bank struggles for donations.

While the community impact was the bank’s core focus of the event, the brand impact was resounding. Pre-event advertising included three large color advertisements in a local newspaper, a featured article in the paper, exposure on three different area radio stations, and posters in each collection location. The small overall investment the bank made resulted in an additional three separate newspaper articles following the event, to the tune of over $12,000 in free advertising post-event. Not only that, Savings Institute Bank & Trust’s Facebook page likes increased by 10% overall, with traffic to the posts for the event driving four times the usual amount of traffic with double the average likes and triple the number of clicks.

Overall, the bank saw a whopping 800% return on its small investment—and proved the resounding strength in the core of its brand promise to be smart in every way it interacts with its customers.

Cassandra Giovanni is marketing manager at Savings Institute Bank & Trust based out of Willimantic, Conn. Her passion for brand originates from her years of experience in marketing as the author of several Amazon Best Selling fiction novels, combined with a decade of experience in banking as a front end employee, assistant branch administrator and financial marketer.